Globalization in the 21st Century has had a remarkable influence on many cultures and ways of life throughout the world. Eastern nations, in particular, who possess strong sensibilities that are distinct from their Western neighbors, have been largely influenced by Western principles in recent years. Japan, for example, has been infiltrated by a number of different global businesses with Western values, whereby their traditional cultural sensibilities have been disrupted in order to acclimate to some of the most common beliefs of the Western world.

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These factors demonstrate a challenging yet unique opportunity for local residents within these cultures to recognize other types of beliefs and to embrace these changes as part of a larger framework for success and achievement. For example, the expansion of McDonalds in Japan and Starbucks Coffee in Latin America represents a new frontier of Western ideals integrating with existing cultures that embody rich traditions and core values. This is a challenging yet amenable approach to expanding these industries on a global scale in order to accommodate the need to increase sales figures, yet to also introduce new ideas and products into new parts of the world.

The expansion of McDonalds into Japan dates back to the 1970s, but it became part of a much larger global franchise concept in the 1990s (Koetze, 2012). At this time, there was a significant opportunity to reach an entirely new audience with a different perspective regarding food products that Eastern cultures were not accustomed to seeing within their communities (Koetse, 2012). From this perspective, McDonalds contributed to a clash of cultures because there were significant differences between the type of products that the company sold and those that were typically consumed by members of the Japanese culture (Koetse, 2012). In this context, french fries and Big Macs were in stark contrast to the traditionally healthier foods consumed by the Japanese prior to the expansion of the brand in Japan. During this era, the Japanese culture perhaps was unsure of how to deal with and accept a new type of Western brand of food that was in stark contrast to its traditional menu. However, the organization gradually gained acceptance, particularly with younger consumers who sought to embrace change and to support Western cultural values.

Eventually, McDonalds’ globalization into Japan was instantly recognizable through its brand image and its ability to impact many people in a country very different from where the concept originated in the United States (Koetse, 2012). McDonalds sought to expand its presence in other nations to identify its level of reach and to also demonstrate its capacity to be successful in new markets, such as Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, and other nations throughout Asia (Koetse, 2012). Most importantly, McDonalds represented a new set of ideals and expectations for consumers in a traditional culture with an entirely different type of approach to food and consumerism (Koetse, 2012). This is an important reminder that globalization does not discriminate and that the integration of new business models, brands, concepts, and behaviors is not exclusive to the originating countries and that non-Western cultures may be receptive to these ideals and may often embrace them as part of their own approaches to 21st Century models (Koetze, 2012). Younger generations within Eastern cultures appear to be in charge of accepting Western customs and values and are more willing to embrace these changes on a regular basis.

Starbucks continues to expand its reach throughout the world and into Latin America, where much of its coffee products originate; however, this has been a challenge to some degree because Latin America has its own longstanding traditions regarding coffee and continues to acclimate to a Westernized version of its own products (Gonzalez, 2014). This expansion has served as an opportunity to extend its reach into new countries and to attract a larger group of middle class residents (Gonzalez, 2014). Starbucks has been welcomed with mixed results, as some consumers in Latin America embrace the Western approach to coffee, while others are less than receptive because they believe that it minimizes the quality of the original product that is grown within their own regions (Gonzalez, 2014). Prior to expansion, many Latin Americans frowned upon coffee culture from North America because of the strong and deeply rooted history of coffee in the Latin American culture. Furthermore, Latin Americans favor coffee as a beverage less than in many other countries, thereby creating an environment in which there is a potentially limited scope and presence (Gonzalez, 2014). Nonetheless, Starbucks in Latin America remains an opportunity and a means of expanding growth and change within local environments where the middle class also continues to expand its spending power and may have a preference for a Westernized version of its home-grown coffee products as part of the daily routine (Gonzalez, 2014).

In a different context, Starbucks in China has been successful in that it has embraced Eastern core values and has adjusted its own culture to accommodate this type of customer (China Business Leadership, 2014). This has been a successful marriage because of its reach and its ability to provide stable employment to its workers, while also providing them with a stable and familiar cultural environment (China Business Leadership, 2014). Starbucks China did not aim to make the Chinese accept its Western culture; rather, they acclimated to Eastern values to achieve success in this region (China Business Leadership, 2014).

McDonalds in Japan and Starbucks in Latin America represent a difficult set of challenges in some ways because both organizations aim to attract a different type of consumer to their products, one who does not have Western cultural norms and values. It is often difficult for Western-based companies to integrate their products and brands into countries where these ideals are not similar; however, it is nonetheless an important step in enabling other nations to gain exposure to these ideas and to determine if they are appropriate for their own needs. Globalization enables businesses throughout the world to expand their reach but to also determine if they will achieve success in cultures where ideals and expectations are very different yet may be acceptable and encouraged by local residents. The expansion of McDonalds and Starbucks are only two of many examples that support the integration of Western ideals into non-Western worlds.

The expansion of Western juggernauts McDonalds and Starbucks into Japan and Latin America, respectively, has been a success story on many levels, as these companies have been able to transfer their Western ideals and approaches to their businesses effectively in cultures where values and norms are very different. It is necessary for businesses to consider how to expand their reach into non-Western cultures and to be aware of the potential resistance that might exist. This is not an uncommon response to change, yet it may be overcome with an approach that is sensitive to the needs of other cultures and the development of growth strategies that will facilitate a gradual expansion and approach to doing business in different types of cultures.